Afghan Foreign Minister Holds Talks In Beijing
May 10, 2011
KABUL -- Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul has met in Beijing with Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi to discuss regional and bilateral economic issues, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.
Officials at the Afghan Embassy in Beijing said Chinese officials expressed support for deepening ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan and for the Afghan government's efforts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents.
Afghan Deputy Ambassador to China Haroon Najampoor told RFE/RL on May 10 that the two ministers discussed several topics, including China's greater political and economic presence in Afghanistan.
"Foreign Minister [Rasoul] welcomed China's investments in Afghanistan and asked the Chinese government to further encourage companies to direct their investment programs at Afghanistan," Najampoor said.
Najampoor also highlighted China's political support of Afghanistan in its struggle to end the insurgency through negotiations and enhanced relations with neighboring Pakistan.
Afghanistan shares a narrow border with China in its northern mountainous Pamir region.
China's role in peace efforts in Afghanistan is seen as significant in light of Kabul's relationship with Pakistan. Historically, China and Pakistan take a tough political stance toward India, which is why China has always enjoyed the reputation of "an old friend" in Pakistan.
China is also considered one of the major investors in Afghanistan's natural resources, especially copper mining.
Najampoor said Chinese companies have invested at least $3 billion to explore one of the country's major copper deposits in the central Logar Province.
"The government of Afghanistan hopes this figure will increase to at least $10 billion in the next few years," he added.
According to official data, China has donated at least $200 million in aid to the Afghan government since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. China is also considered a major contributor to road-building projects in Afghanistan.
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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